Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sense and Sensibility


One of Gurdjieff's five "Obligolnian strivings" (as found in Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson) is the need to work to understand the laws of world creation and world maintenance.

Let's ponder together for a moment in that spirit.

When we consider the alchemical idea "as above, so below," in conjunction with the judaeochristian idea that God created man "in his own image," we are presented with a question about the nature of perception and perceiving.

From the time the universe was created up to the present day, the majority of perception- in the raw form of what we would call "information exchange"- has taken place in the context of simple elctromagnetic exchange. I say "simple" because, reduced to a reflexive and mechanistic (reductionsts would say random and accidental) set of causes and effects, there is no "
meaning"- no sensitivty, no appreciation- contained within the form. It's only with the advent of agency (see Stuart Kauffman's "Reinventing The Sacred"), that is, consciousness, that the possibility of meaning arises.

When the universe first came into existence, it lacked context. Simple electromagnetic exchange was the only form of perception.

Why wasn't this adequate? Why, in other words, was there any "need" whatsoever for agency, for the advent of consciousness as we experience it?

Some scientists have pointed out (see John Barrow's "The Constants Of Nature" and Paul Davies' "Cosmic Jackpot") that the laws of nature-that is, physics- appear to have been
tweaked, in a manner that just about inspires outright incredulity, to allow for the exact conditions that make it possible for life to exist.

So it appears to some of us (those who don't believe accident alone is a sufficient explanation for the existence of reality) as though the Universe- God- had a specific "wish" for consciousness to evolve, that there was a need for this kind of perception to arise. In other words, the universe has an inherent
desire to perceive itself in more that just the simple way that electromagnetism, in the absence of agency, makes possible.

This possibility raises questions about the idea of the extinction of desire espoused in some esoteric practices, but we will not digress on that right now.

When I hear the sound of running water in the stream outside my friend's house this morning, it occurs to me that it took the planet, and the universe, literally billions of years and untold amounts of effort and suffering (in the form of life and death) to make this simple action of perception through agency possible.

From a coldly "scientific" perspective, there was no "need" for this. Only when we consider the idea of a creative force with a hunger for knowing the nature of its own creation can we begin to approach a
whole contextual meaning. That is, a meaning that contains not just physics and analysis, but that essential third force, an emotional element.

In the brush strokes of the picture where man is created in God's image, an image of
sleep and awakening emerges. God, like man, in the guise of the universe, started out asleep- within a creation that lacked the sensitive means of perception, the organic poetry, the art which agency can bring. Only after a great struggle to awaken, to develop new and much finer organs of perception- we call that struggle "biological evolution"- did an awakening become possible in which creation was perceived in a new way.

So man's struggle to awaken can be understood both as a microcosmic recapitulation of the struggle of the universe to sense itself, and as the
current, ongoing effort of the universe to sense itself.

Put in the simplest terms, life exists because God wants to hear the sound of running water, and the call of the blackbird on a summer morning.

We are here, as agents, to fulfill that responsibility.

May our hearts be open and our prayers be heard.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

the absolute mystery

As I bring myself up against the absolute mystery of this immediate moment, I see that the deeper the connection is, the more certain the awareness of my lack of understanding becomes. This is the moment in which a real opportunity to "stay in front of my lack" arises. Not an activity that I command, but, rather, one that may be invited.

Here, I understand more and more, within the context of gravity and sensation, that I understand almost nothing. And, in fact, that I cannot understand in the way that I think it is possible to understand.

In the context of the organic sense of being, of the actual inhabitation of the organism, everything is followed by a question mark except the experience itself. Because I am generally several steps removed from this state, I continually forget the difference between receiving life from within the awareness of the organism, and thinking about receiving life from within the awareness of the organism. And the energies that make it possible to sense such things, and to be, are not under my control.

I can know, but I cannot know very much. If any real understanding arises, it arises within this inhabitation of the body, and it only becomes real understanding if the heart begins to participate. Without the heart, there is no work. There can be preparation for work, but work itself cannot proceed unless the heart is active. Everything up to that point is just preparation, nothing more.

In life, we speak of love and compassion. But these things are just abstractions, concepts, philosophies. For myself, I see this. The only time that love and compassion become real is when something is more active in the organism. It's quite necessary to remind myself of this, because I live with the constant wish to invoke love and compassion, instead of allowing those flowers to open naturally. Maybe I have some buds, and can peel those buds open, but then I don't have a flower. I have the subject of a laboratory examination which has been dismembered.

I see, in fact, that a great deal of life is exactly that if it is not inhabited. It becomes a laboratory examination, not remembered but dismembered. I experience, and even before experience is over, I pick it apart to classify it. I want to analyze, to explain, to be an authority about this question of life. It's possible to do that -- armies of psychologists and spiritualists and scientists have appointed themselves to that role over the centuries -- but in acquiring that temporal and very ordinary kind of authority, something is lost.

What is lost is a sense of the absolute mystery of this condition we call existence. It is certainly possible to understand this condition, but the only way to understand it is from within it, from within a full inhabitation of it. The moment the mind sets itself apart from this inhabitation, relationship collapses. And the heart relies on the presence of relationship in order to enter and fulfill its role.

Above all, the heart and soul of human relationship is the relationship with other human beings. Christ certainly brought us that work. The Buddhists, too, take refuge in the Samgha: the discovery of Being within the community.

So in the hope of having a real understanding, I begin within relationship, and within the community I inhabit -- both of the community of my inner organism, and the community of the individuals that surround me. And as I begin in that place, I openly admit to myself that there is no understanding. There can't be understanding.

There can be an offering which is made from the heart--with a certain kind of innocence which the world, of course, will do everything it can to crush the moment that it appears. But that doesn't mean it should not be offered. Christ advised us to turn the other cheek: even when the world slaps our offerings and our innocence, we must come back again to offer.

This is no work for arrogant people. The planet has enough of those; let those dead bury their own dead. Those who live must put arrogance aside and discover the humility that begins within an organism that first, and truly, understands that it understands nothing.

There is a moment in my work when I become comfortable with not understanding -- comfortable in the sense that I see I exist, and that this is enough to begin working on behalf of something bigger than myself. I don't have to be in charge, and I don't need to be an authority. I need to just be.

Gratitude plows furrows of sorrow, and sorrow can receive the sows the seeds of a real compassion -- one that is not built on my theories about how I (or others) ought to be compassionate, but rather, a compassion that exists within the roots of the organism, and belongs not to the mind, but the soul.

May our hearts be opened, and our prayers be heard.

Monday, June 15, 2009

On Mixing Work


A tree always knows where its roots belong, but a man needs to constantly remind himself.

Readers will know I routinely examine questions from multiple spiritual disciplines. At the same time, you won’t find me sitting Zazen at a Zendo.

Why not?

In a day and age where exploration and the mixing of works has become routine—some of my best friends in the Gurdjieff work are up to their eyeballs in Qigong, Tai Chi, Hinduism, Buddhism, and who knows what else—I don’t do it. Yes, I still attend Church from time to time—religious practices are respected and even encouraged in the work. Nonetheless. Although I support and endorse my various friend’s involvements in other works, personally, I have a different opinion on the matter.

When I was very young in the work, my group leader Betty Brown advised me she couldn’t accept responsibility for what was produced if I started to engage in esoteric practices from outside the Gurdjieff work. In today’s world that admonition would be considered stodgy and outdated.

So why did she say that?

Inside the esoteric circles -- certainly, in any event, inside the esoteric circle of the Gurdjieff work -- the commandment "thou shalt not commit adultery" refers specifically to the mixing of work. One is not supposed to mix different spiritual works.

There's a reason for that. The Gurdjieff work is different because of its particular aims.

Gurdjieff made it clear to Ouspensky early on that there were other works which might well be legitimate, within the context of the Way that they came from. Gurdjieff, however, proposed a different sort of work.

There is a specific intention behind this work. And that intention is not a small thing, limited to one man’s development. Real Schools, as Ouspensky called them, must have much larger aims.

So Gurdjieff did not establish this work solely for his own evolution, although it surely helped him in his own aim. And he didn't establish it for everyone else's individual evolutions. The man had a much greater vision.

Now, we all say we “don’t work for results,” and in an immediate sense that is and must be true, for reasons I won’t bother expounding on here. In the end, however, there are results, else no one, anywhere, would bother practicing the esoteric arts: first of all, the “results” (in the form of realized masters) are what attract us to works in the first place, and secondly, why even bother to work if one has no wish for any kind of “result?” Even Buddhist masters might well find it specious to argue that we work simply so that nothing whatsoever will happen.

It may be true that most of us succeed in that kind of work, but that's beside the point.

The point I am leading to here is that the Gurdjieff work was designed to produce a result unlike the results of other works. One can argue as one wishes as to whether this is good, bad, desirable, undesirable, misguided, and so on. It doesn’t matter. The simple fact is that there was this specific intention behind Gurdjieff’s Work which has not been fully realized yet. The intention may take generations to come to fruition.

The intention behind the work can only be achieved if worked at by many different individuals and groups over a long period of time: not just years, or decades, but perhaps even centuries. And the overall aim of the work is not an individual aim, although individual aims may well be served by the work in proportion to how much an individual’s aim serves the work itself. The work as a whole is an entity with an aim that can only be achieved collectively, and which is not, in certain senses, a public matter, even within the ranks of the work itself.

It’s possible, with enough inner work, to begin to intimate what that aim is, but only after many, many years of personal work, and even then only with the dawning realization that the work is not personal. Our practice of "self observation" can at first lead us to believe that the work is in fact intensely personal, but eventually, we may discover otherwise.

Those who mix work or leave the work do so out of an honest but, I believe, unfortunate impression that their own work is personal; in other words, there is a “contaminating” egoistic element inherent in their assumptions. First, that they are working “for themselves,” and second, that the Gurdjieff work is not sufficient unto itself for its own purposes, and that they are developed enough to render judgment on that question. (This second point is perhaps one of the most peculiar features that develop in many individuals during the course of their inner work.)

In this regard it might be wise to remind ourselves of what Gurdjieff said in the prelude to “Beelzebub” (friendly advice:)” "Any prayer may be heard and granted by the Higher Powers only if it is uttered thrice:

First--for the welfare or the peace of the souls of one's parents;
Second--for the welfare of one's neighbor;
And only third--for oneself personally."

In other words, one cannot even begin to work for one’s self before one has undertaken work, so to speak, “on behalf of the whole.” We cannot put ourselves first if we wish to develop.

We’ve reached a moment in time when the Work needs to open its doors wider, true; this is perhaps inevitable, and a breath of fresh air is surely needed. But this need does not contradict the overall aim of the Work, or its need to remain "pure." This is not a question of politics or externals; it’s an inner question within a question, lying close to the heart of why we are working.

To dilute the work with other works is to dilute the aim.

Every individual who enters the work needs to ponder this carefully before coming on board; and every individual who mixes, or leaves, needs to ponder this quite carefully as well. It is not a casual matter; any tendency to treat it as such, as though it were like changing one’s socks until they suited one’s sense of fashion, is unfortunate.

May our hearts be opened, and our prayers be heard.

Friday, June 12, 2009

On The Nature Of Sorrow

I write so much in the blog these days about practice that it seems appropriate, on occasion, to offer readers some more theoretical material—but only if it is based on insights gained through actual experience.

Sitting here 32,000 feet in the air (somewhere over Alaska, more or less) on Delta flight 432 to Shanghai, I have had one such insight, which triggered a set of inevitable logically-flowing associations that, in an organic impulse, all but demanded write-up, and publication.

This essay may not offer readers any durable insight on the nature of sorrow from the practical, inner point of view. That delicate, and demanding, work has to be left up to the individual. The question of sorrow itself is, however, discussed very little in the active practice of the Gurdjieff work—at least in the circles I move in—and this strikes me as rather peculiar, since, as with the question of taking in impressions, it has become quite central to my own work. Hence we depart on what, for this blog, will be a longer than usual excursion into the arcane.

Gurdjieff once said that one of the chief purposes of man’s ability to evolve was so that he could take up the task of sharing the burden of the “sorrow of His Endlessness.” This reminds us, perhaps, of the remark that Christ was a man “well acquainted with sorrows.”

We come almost at once to a nearly inevitable, yet curiously unstated, deduction about Gurdjieff’s cosmology and the place of man. To share in the burden of sorrow is to feel the sorrow; in other words, man’s chief place in the cosmos is to become an instrument of feeling.

So once again, we see that the question of man’s development is closely tied both to the nature, and the quality, of his connection to emotional center (see “On The Development Of Emotional Center” at www.doremishock.com.) This does not mean that the other centers play no role—in fact, their role is essential in this enterprise, because they are meant to help man investigate and cope with the inevitable consequences of this emotional work. (Another subject, for another essay.)

In order to better approach an understanding of just what this sorrow we speak of is, it’s well to remember that Gurdjieff told Ouspensky that everything in the universe is material. Sorrow is, in other words, a material substance produced by the interaction of other material substances.

In expounding further on this question of sorrow, it’s necessary, early on, to bring in another major idea, and that is the nature of time. Time, as both Gurdjieff and modern physicists would have it, does not actually exist. In “Beelzebub,” Gurdjieff described time in terms that today’s physics would probably be quite comfortable with: "'Time in itself does not exist; there is only the totality of the results issuing from all the cosmic phenomena present in a given place.’”

In a certain sense, our universe is deterministic, and all events in the universe are contemporaneous. (Gurdjieff implies this quite directly in several sections of “Beelzebub,” and elsewhere: “For one thing to be different, everything would have to be different,” etc. Cogent arguments for a form of universal determinism also exist in Buddhism, e.g., Dogen’s Shobogenzo, essays on cause and effect.) Our sequential perception of time is perfectly attuned to the sensory perception of what is called “classical” reality, that is, the Einsteinian universe, but it is an inadequate or partial perception, based on the limitations of both our organism and our level of awareness. Time and causality exist within an “eternal soup” that has a permanent and real existence regardless of which exact “point” on the “time” line any packet of energy finds itself on.

In this sense, the substance of sorrow—that is, all of the sorrow that ever can be produced by the interactions of matter—is eternal in nature, that is, all the sorrow that has ever existed or ever can exist, already exists, and can never not exist. This sorrow, in varying degrees of what Gurdjieff might call “fineness of vibration,” is continually produced by the emotional interaction of matter at all levels of the universe; and it is produced precisely because there can be no relationship within the universe without emotion.

Examining this from the only perspective we have—the human perspective—we understand this to mean that the core of relationship is emotional in nature. Emotion is the glue that holds everything together.

Let’s examine that a bit further.

Things—the physical—represented in man by moving center, can have no relationship on their own, because the material existence of things, in and of itself, imparts no inherent meaning.

And the intellect, intelligence- facts, as one might crudely approximate—has no wish for relationship; it consists of analysis, but there is no heart to it—nothing that pumps blood, nothing that animates the question.

It’s only in the context of what we call wish in the Gurdjieff work, that is, an emotive quality, that relationship begins to arrive, and the question of—not the answer to—what we might call the “meaning of meaning” arrives. No coincidence that one often hears of people struggling to discover their wish—this emotive element which imparts an impetus is what is so often missing in us.

In a material sense, when emotion enters, the triad that makes relationship possible is formed, and makes possible the arising of the dual emotive qualities of joy and sorrow, which are, as I have pointed out elsewhere, (see "chakras and the enneagram" at doremishock.com) actually the same emotion, as experienced from different angles. In other words, without the third force of emotion, the universe could not exist. Reality has the question of joy/sorrow woven into the fundamental warp of its fabric.

Here we come to the crux of today’s insight. The question of sorrow becomes paramount, because within a certain context of inner work it becomes evident that all of the sorrow in the universe that ever existed is eternally present within this immediate moment.

The entire universe is indeed constructed of Love, but this is not a Love consisting solely of joy alone—it consists of joy/sorrow, and according to Gurdjieff it is not man’s principle task to feel joy. This is, perhaps, the exact place where the Gurdjieff work unmistakably parts company with many other spiritual disciplines. We might suggest that while His creation feels joy, His Endlessness Himself feels sorrow, and He can only feel Joy insofar as His creation shoulders the overwhelming burden of sorrow. Yes, we have the sensory equipment for the sensation of joy, and through Grace it will come, but for us, as “particles of creation,” the question of sorrow is at the deepest heart of our inner work.

Bringing us back to this question of “time,” in a certain sense it is a man’s task to be able to sense and accept, as an emotional impression, all of the sorrow that has already gone before him in the "time of" (relative to) his life. This means that through inner evolution, a man can become capable of taking in a small yet tangible portion of the “sum total” of all the sorrow of all the organisms (human or otherwise) that have ever existed.

And in a certain subtle yet ungraspable sense, it is the duty of mankind to feel this sorrow for all those organisms that have gone before. To sense the sum total of their lives, their struggles, their deaths.

It’s not too bold to say that the emotional center, if it should open, stands on the threshold of a moment in which it might become possible, emotionally, to sense everything that has ever taken place in the universe in a single instant. This may sound allegorical, but it isn’t. We might call it a “universal impression of sorrow.”

The “universal impression of sorrow” is not one of sentiment, and it touches not just one, but all of, the centers. It is an organic experience—physical, intellectual, and emotional. Sorrow cannot be easily defined or translated into words, because the essential nature of sorrow is experiential. What Gurdjieff called the “sorrow of His Endlessness” is not evoked by a simple relationship of cause and effect: it is spontaneous, organic, intuitive and essential.

As such it’s quite distinct from the ordinary (and quite valid and necessary) sorrow that the causal circumstances of day-to-day life evokes. This type of sorrow can certainly provide a bridge to that deeper sorrow—in the extremis of emotional distraught, powerful higher substances with transformative potentials are certainly released—but it is not the same thing, and to participate in “unintentional sorrow” is quite different that to intentionally accept that higher sorrow which we are, through grace, called upon to share.

The question of the experience of sorrow is closely tied to three-centered work and the more active taking in of impressions into the body. One cannot work seriously on this question for long before encountering at the very least the glimmerings of a more universal sorrow—an aim of inner study which is unique, perhaps, to the Gurdjieff work.

May our hearts be opened, and our prayers be heard.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A more active stance

First a brief prelude, in which we place the author in the context of his environment.

I'm in Georgia. Working for a few days at my corporate headquarters before I head for China. It is astonishingly hot here; the heat is a living substance that pounds itself into the pores. For reasons I cannot explain, I find it natural to relax into its demand. It's almost pleasurable.

Working in the midst of this recently new, but now familiar, environment, all day long, I find a bit of time to work. In fact, for many years, life and work have become inseparable. Life itself, the sensation of life, becomes a reminding factor in a way that no set of rules or plans could possibly substitute for.

So. I live. I work.

What do I mean by that, I "work?"

Well, I mean something that my former group leader (God rest his soul) Henry Brown once said to me "Sometimes, working just means taking in impressions."

In my ongoing examination of this question, "What is the point at which impressions enter the body?", I see how passive I am.

This, of course, is something that Jeanne De Salzmann brought up many times when speaking. We are not active. In my own case, what interests me is just how much is available in terms of attention to incoming impressions, and just how little interest there is from some of my parts.

In the mass of stunning contradictions that one begins to see as one inhabits oneself in a more organic manner, the one thing that seems certain is that the attention to the impressions of life create what Mr. Gurdjieff would have called more "vivifying vibrations." In fact, when he was asked what the work did to people, he once said, "everything more vivid." And that can, at times, certainly be the case.

At the same time, there is a depth to the experience of awareness that cannot be summarized with such a simple phrase. The activity of the emotional center, if it becomes more connected, begins to cause a man to ask many questions about his life -- his emotional life, his physical life, his intellectual life, his entire life -- that are not asked without a better connection between the centers. "The terror of the situation" is just the beginning of an examination of the effects that that produces on a man.

And perhaps the most compelling formulation that arrives in the pondering of one's own helplessness is the irrevocable fact of that helplessness itself.

I don't ask enough questions about where I am, and what I am doing. Above all, I don't question myself actively enough to see that I am always, if I wish to be -- there's that famous phrase, "I wish to be"-- at the point where impressions enter. Bringing awareness to that point changes the transaction between Being and causality. That is a very big and very metaphysical way of putting it, but I'll just say it that way anyway.

Cause and effect do lie at the heart of this question. Intelligence -- in the sense of true awareness, of what Gurdjieff would have called three centered Being--exists as the intermediary between cause and effect. (This statement is a tempting philosophical digression which I will intentionally ignore.)

This question of impressions and our presence -- our awareness in relationship to them -- can be applied anywhere, at any time, to any experience. So we are all granted a lifetime of unending opportunities to bring the attention to the place where impressions enter. It can mean so many things, under so many different circumstances. And the act of being present to this particular question, if it is applied correctly -- first, and foremost, in relationship to sensation, with a sense of pondering and precise examination within the moment-- creates a situation in which life, so to speak, has suddenly been put under a magnifying glass, where many things that were tiny or obscure and unclear suddenly spring into high relief, and create a sense of astonishment that they were not noticed before.

At the same time, the intellect, the ordinary thinking part of mind, must absolutely be less active in order for this to be possible. It's a paradox -- we think we need to think, and by thinking that, we fail to think in a real way. We fail to think, that is, in a way that includes more than one center.

When this happens, the place that thinking center usually occupies -- that is, 100% of what is going on within the field of awareness, more or less -- is changed so that perhaps only one third of what is being perceived arrives and is filtered through that particularly distorted lens. With the other lenses of awareness -- our emotions and our sensation --participating, the world looks quite different, and has a very different weight. The center of gravity of Being has changed.

One of the traditional methods of the Gurdjieff work is to have tasks and exercises. These are formulations and constructions that help us to begin to try and find a way to work on our own. There comes a time, however, when one must step across a line so that the examination of a question -- for example, this question of where impressions arrive -- is no longer a job to be done, or an exercise to be conducted and dispensed with after it is complete, but an active and living presence in the midst of life, where I take an active stance towards this question over, and over, and over again in the course of the day. Simply because the connection between the parts of the body is interesting, compelling, and vital. Simply because I see that I don't know much about this, but that it feeds me organically.

I will share a rather private, but distinct, impression that I took in of this kind today. It involves a subject we do not speak about much in the work, which is sex. Of course, we speak about sex energy, but mostly in a supremely intellectual manner, as though we had control over it, and it wasn't able to make us, so to speak, do any damn thing it wanted to.

In any event, I saw today as I was taking in impressions and within sensation -- inhabiting life in that way I often write and speak about--that I saw that this particular experience is often just as satisfying as sex, that is, as an orgasm ...although of course quite different ...and please don't ask me to explain why, because I won't.

Now, this is not a new perception, or even a new subject for me. I have noticed this before. What interests me is that overall, sex seems more attractive to me. I'm not sure why; perhaps it's because sex is hardwired, biological, inevitable, and habitual. But as the impression of taking in the impressions deepens, and the sensation of this quite extraordinary food arrives, I ask myself more and more why this is not more interesting to me, and why I am not more active towards it, when it has such a compelling effect--in point of fact, one that is both longer-lasting and in some ways far more interesting than orgasm.

It touches on the question of why we so perversely turn away from what is good for us.

That is a question that is repeatedly driven home in both the old and new Testaments of the Bible, as well as Hinduism and Buddhism. But it touches on a deeper part of that question, because this is not a turning away from something that is morally good, or socially desirable: it is a turning away from the food that the organism, the Being itself, not only definitely needs, but thrives when it receives.

Well then. How is it for every one else?

Go. Look. See.

May our hearts be opened, and our prayers be heard.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

where do impressions come in?

This morning, while I was sitting, I asked myself the question, "where do impressions enter the body?"

This is hardly a casual question.  Readers may recall that when Gurdjieff was expounding on the chemical factory to P. D. Ouspensky in "In Search Of The Miraculous," (I'm referring to the frequently glossed-over-with-glazed-eyes Chapter 9) one of the points he made was that when a man puts his attention at the place where impressions enter the body, it causes the actual "transformational machinery"--the equipment that processes impressions as food--to be able to operate in a more efficient manner, creating substances in a man which can help his inner work enormously.  To be more precise, the specific food that is created through this activity is Mi 12,  which is the "higher hydrogen" that our inner work ought to be founded on, rather than what man usually tries to use-- si 12, which is sex energy.

Perhaps the theoretical aspects of this question  are interesting to readers; perhaps not. In order to understand the theoretical question, one has to delve fairly deep into the matter of the chemical factory and actually spend some time understanding the diagrams. That is not the point of this post.  Right now, I am just raising the practical questions about what this means, to put the attention at the place where impressions enter the body.

The matter deserves careful examination within the context of the organism.  Impressions enter the body at myriad points;  one might say, perhaps, the 10,000 directions of Buddhism. There are always impressions entering the body from what could be summarized as an infinite number of directions.  So no matter where one turns, if one puts one's attention there, one's attention is discovered where impressions are entering. There are many questions we can ask in the practical implementation of this work, for example:

Where do emotional impressions enter me? 

Breathing is an impression. Where does that enter me? Is it the lungs? The skin? The blood? How does attending to this impression affect my sensation of the body?

Thinking is an impression. Can I take an impression of thinking? Precisely where does that take place? Can I have an attention to that impression, of myself thinking?

If I attend to this question more precisely when I am sitting, and then perhaps later in the day as well, this can become a very interesting investigation. 

I am leaving for China  this Thursday, and hope to have a little more time to write posts while I am on the trip. Some trips provide rich material; we will just have to see how this goes.

In the meantime, hopefully, this brief post leaves us all with a question that can be looked at over the next few days. 

May our hearts be open and our prayers be heard .